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Stated versus inferred beliefs: A methodological inquiry and experimental test

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  • Rutstrom, E. Elizabet
  • Wilcox, Nathaniel

Abstract

If asking subjects their beliefs during repeated game play changes the way those subjects play, using those stated beliefs to evaluate and compare theories of strategic behavior is problematic. We experimentally verify that belief elicitation can alter paths of play in a repeated asymmetric matching pennies game. In this setting, belief elicitation improves the goodness of fit of structural models of belief learning, and the prior beliefs implied by such structural models are both stronger and more realistic when beliefs are elicited than when they are not. These effects are, however, confined to the player type who sees a strong asymmetry between payoff possibilities for her two strategies in the game. We also find that “inferred beliefs” (beliefs estimated from past observed actions of opponents) can be better predictors of observed actions than the “stated beliefs” resulting from belief elicitation.

Suggested Citation

  • Rutstrom, E. Elizabet & Wilcox, Nathaniel, 2008. "Stated versus inferred beliefs: A methodological inquiry and experimental test," MPRA Paper 11852, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:11852
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Berninghaus, Siegfried K. & Todorova, Lora & Vogt, Bodo, 2011. "A simple questionnaire can change everything: Are strategy choices in coordination games stable?," Working Paper Series in Economics 37, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Management.
    7. Siegfried K. Berninghaus & Lora Todorova & Bodo Vogt, 2011. "A Simple Questionnaire Can Change Everything - Are Strategy Choices in Coordination Games Stable?," Jena Economic Research Papers 2011-057, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    8. Alexander Smith, 2012. "Comment on social preferences, beliefs, and the dynamics of free riding in public good experiments," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 32(1), pages 923-931.
    9. Fooks, Jacob R. & Messer, Kent D. & Duke, Joshua M. & Johnson, Janet B. & Parsons, George R., 2017. "Continuous attribute values in a simulation environment: Offshore energy production and Mid-Atlantic beach visitation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 288-302.
    10. Lora R. Todorova & Siegfried K. Berninghaus & Bodo Vogt, 2011. "A Simple Questionnaire Can Change Everything - Are Strategy Choices in Coordination Games Stable?," FEMM Working Papers 110019, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    beliefs; stated beliefs; belief elicitation; inferred beliefs; estimated beliefs; belief updating; repeated games; experimental methods;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games

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